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NEWS BRIEFS

Markíza occupied for third time

On October 19, former private Markíza TV General Director Pavol Rusko made a dramatic return to the station with a group of men said by witnesses to be Russian speakers from Afghanistan, and to have acted aggressively towards Markíza employees in entering the building. Rusko claimed he had returned to protect "some hundreds of millions of crowns of Markíza property, which was suddenly without security" following a court decision on October 16.

The court decision confirmed that a lower court had been right to award Rusko's ownership shares in TV Markíza to Gamatex s.r.o., a firm to whom Rusko stood in breach of contract. But when Gamatex moved to change Markíza's security service personnel on October 16, Rusko declared Markíza property endangered and returned with his own intimidating forces to protect it. Also in attendance were members of the police, who came to "ensure peace and legal conduct at the station," according to Rusko.

The station has now been occupied three times by different security forces, twice by the supporters of Gamatex owners Štefan Ágh and Marián Kočner, on August 18 and September 15. The 'Markízagate' dispute, an ownership quarrel turned ugly, galvanised supporters of opposition parties during the election campaign, leading to street meetings and demonstrations.

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